Mumbai: Former ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi Wednesday welcomed the court verdict in the 2006 serial blasts on Mumbai local trains, saying it had vindicated the efforts of his team of officers which conducted the probe even as the defence counsel said they will appeal in the High Court.
"I congratulate all my 15 officers, who had probed the case. The verdict is a vindication of our efforts. I am happy that the court has appreciated the evidence and given an appropriate quantum of punishment in the case," he told PTI.
Five persons were sentenced to death and seven others imprisoned for life by a special court here for the serial blasts that left 189 commuters dead and over 800 injured.
Soon after the quantum of sentence was pronounced, Raghuvanshi arrived at the city sessions court here and said, "I am satisfied with the quantum announced by the court. I would have been more happy had all the convicted been awarded death sentence."
"All the claims of people who had accused us of arresting the wrong people have been proved false. With this verdict, police's credibility has increased. The judgement proves that truth cannot be hidden," he told reporters.
Leading lawyers too hailed the decision of the court.
"I welcome the verdict because in this case the evidence was circumstantial and the prosecution was able to successfully prove the guilt of the accused," said Ujjwal Nikam, a leading public prosecutor who has appeared on behalf the state in many terror-related cases.
Nikam said that the court had accepted that there was a criminal conspiracy to create the serial blasts during peak hours in local trains. However, in a criminal conspiracy all the conspirators have an equal role to play and they are also responsible individually and collectively for the terror act. Therefore, all the convicts should have got death punishment.
However, advocate Sharif Shaikh, who defended some of the convicts in this case, said, "They have been falsely implicated by the ATS (prosecuting agency). We shall appeal in the Bombay High Court. All those ATS officers who have fabricated evidence in this case will go behind bars."
The case had seen a twist when the defence lawyer sought to call Indian Mujahideen co-founder Sadiq Sheikh as defence witness after he told the police in 2008 that IM members were responsible for all the blasts that happened since 2005 including the train blasts.
The court had allowed examination of Sadiq as a defence witness but he later claimed that he gave his confession under duress.
Leading defence lawyer Majeed Memon said the verdict was expected to be "harsh" because a serious offence had been committed against the society. However, the death penalty imposed on five convicts would assume finality only after the Bombay High Court confirms the punishment awarded to convicts.